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  • By Laura Schaefer

What to Expect When You Hire an Executive Ghostwriter

If you've never worked with a ghostwriter before, you likely have several questions about how the process works. How long does it take? Who owns the rights to the book once it's completed? Since I enjoy ghostwriting very much, I thought I'd take a few moments to set your mind at ease and explain what to expect when you hire me to complete your book project. Read on!

1. Completing a 150-200 page book can take as little as 10 weeks. When a professional hires me to write their book, I work fast. I like to put five or six 90 minute in-person interview sessions on the calendar right away. I record our interviews with my iPad, and also take notes on my laptop as we talk. Within a day or two after each interview session, I generally add 10-15 pages of material to the working manuscript. Then, within the following week, I refine and polish that material. One reason I like to work quickly is I find the book has more energy and flow if I work on it directly after speaking with you every week. I want to capture the excitement you've conveyed to me about your ideas and experiences!

2. I like to think of your manuscript as a living document. I use Google docs to work on your book (and I back up the file to Word for extra peace of mind). The reason is simple--it eliminates version control issues. At any point in the process, you can log in and see my progress on your book. You directly can respond to questions I've asked in margin comments. You can add detail to the manuscript itself. Working in Google docs together makes the whole process easy and collaborative.

3. You own all the rights to your book. As your ghostwriter, I have entered into a work-for-hire agreement with you. If your book eventually becomes a bestseller and earns you millions of dollars in royalty payments, that is all yours.

4. Working with a ghostwriter should be fun! If you think about writing with dread because you hated doing term papers in high school, don't worry. I love to laugh. Yes, I take the time to learn about your industry so I can ask intelligent questions. But I also like to see the lighter side and have fun while we're working together. This is your chance to reflect on what you want to say, to help others, to give advice, to communicate in an effective way, and to work with someone who really wants to understand you. The whole process should be enjoyable and satisfying.

5. Will there be typos? Yes. While I pride myself on crafting very clean copy, the writer (even the ghostwriter) of any book should not also be the copy editor. You'll need to ask a second individual to give the manuscript a once-over before you decide to print the manuscript or publish it in ebook form. This person can be a freelance professional you hire, an employee, or even a friend. But it shouldn't be me.

6. What happens to the manuscript when it's done? That's up to you. There are several easy to use self-publishing platforms online, and I'd be happy to give you a quick tutorial on how to use Amazon's, for example. But the decision about where and how to publish your book is up to you. You may want to hire a designer and print the book to sell or give away at events or conferences. You may want to publish it in ebook form on your website; or use it as a free gift for anyone who signs up for your email list. The possibilities are all exciting, but this part of the process is beyond the scope of the services I offer.

Ready to work with a great ghostwriter? Get it touch with me via email: or connect on LinkedIn, and we'll schedule a phone call to talk about your goals.

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